South Africa’s inland waters strategy comes under national govt spotlight this week Friday – and SAMSA says it’s fully onboard

Pretoria: 19 October 2021

The launch of South Africa’s inland waters strategy by the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula at the Vaal Dam in southern Gauteng province on Friday this week marks a critical and crucial turning point for the country in terms of effective and efficient management of inland water spaces, particularly with regards to collaborative efforts towards enhancement of human and environmental safety and wellness.

That is according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA, the country’s primary agency statutorily for maritime and marine safety inclusive of both people and water vessels across the country’s three oceans as well as inland waters such as dams and rivers.

SAMSA’s main focus area in terms of the country’s inland waters is the promotion and enhancement of safety as well as environmental protection with regards boating use in various categories in terms of the South African Merchant Shipping Act 57 of 1951 (National Small Vessel Safety) Regulation, 2007, as amended; which extends its overall original 1998 founding Act mandate to include inland waterways within or accessible to the public within the Republic.

According to SAMSA, the legislation provides for, among things; regulations for each specified category of vessels – from small to big – with particular regard to requirements for their construction and use,whether for commerce, leisure or such other use on South African waters.

The Inland Waters Strategy to be launched on Friday itself, according to the Department of Transport, aims to “find the right balance between an emphasis on education and encouraging personal responsibility and the need for the implementation of the National Small Vessel Safety (NSVS) Regulations in a manner of co-operative governance and other measures for an effective inland waterway safety regime.

“The implementation of the goal-oriented, intergovernmental co-operative strategy that underpins regulation, compliance, education, communication and awareness will greatly assist in promoting a culture of safe and responsible boating.  This must be implemented in the spirit of co-operative governance between national, provincial and local government, as well as Industry and communities using, or living next to the inland waters.”

Therefore SAMSA has been working closely both with the Department of Transport – its parent government department – other national and provincial government bodies and institutions as well as private sector and independent bodies to contribute to formulation of the Inland Water Strategy.

In addition, SAMSA says it had also begun rolling out a series of training programmes and workshops for small boats owning or operating communities across the country since about a year ago, all to assist South Africans with both enhanced awareness and knowledge of the requirements of the raft of NSVS regulations under the Act.

Specifically tasked with the assignment is its dedicated boating section led by Ms Debbie James as manager, along with a set of highly technically skilled officers that serve both as surveyors as well as training providers.

Recently added to the SAMSA boating section team are a group of youths with basic seafaring skills and experience who are undergoing training as Marine Officers over a two year period. (see video below)

Over the next few years the SAMSA boating section team will be intensifying its reach across South Africa’s thousands of dams that are geographically widespread, some on 23 large rivers and many estuaries located over a large area of the country, in all nine provinces, to engage for law compliance owners and operators of as many as an estimated 1.2 million small vessels, commonly known as boats, that operate in South Africa, mostly for sport, recreation, tourism and subsistence fishing by local communities.

On Friday this week SAMSA will further outline with much finer detail the length and breadth of current and future planned activity relating to the Inland Waters Strategy and the latter whose detail is scheduled to be unpacked by both its owners, the Department of Transport as well others key roleplayers; among them the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (DEFF), the South African Police Services (SAPS), the South African Navy, boating associations and related institutions both in the public and private sectors.

In the meantime, this blog caught up with members of the SAMSA boating section embarking on the nationwide training workshops programme to glean on their recent and current activitity. For that story, please see the section below.

This SAMSA blog also took time to chat to the three young seafarers at the agency undergoing training as Marine Officers and part of whose current training involves boating surveys. For the full interview click on the video below.

SAMSA ON NATION-WIDE SMALL BOATS TRAINING WORKSHOPS WITH CORPS OF THREE YOUNG SEAFARERS UNDERGOING TRAINING AS MARINE OFFICERS ON TOW

SA’s small watercraft vessels owners and users’ compliance with law is receiving a boost with SAMSA’s increasing national training workshops.

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and its sickness and fatal impacts on people the world over, has without doubt affected negatively a whole range of human activity across sectors of society, inclusive of leisure involving the widespread use of small vessels in South Africa’s open water spaces, both adjacent the oceans as well as inland.

With people having endured no less that a year and half under national lockdown characterised by intermittent levels of lockdown intensity – from a total shutdown at Level 5 to a more relaxed one at Level 1 – and now with vaccinations on a wide scale, a reasonable expectation is that many are itching for social outdoor leisure to begin in earnest.

For some this means taking time out for boat ride on the country’s rivers, dams, lagoons and related if only for a care free relaxation.

However, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) boating section, a “carefree relaxation” on small water vessels anywhere in the country actually comes with a lot of responsibility both for those that own the small watercrafts, just as is the case for those that board them on water, for any reason.

In addition to general safety, that’s partly because in terms of South African law, all vessels used for any reason on South African waters, both at sea as well as on open water spaces such as rivers, dams, lagoons and similar; must be approved for such use inclusive of licencing of both the vessels as well as crew personnel in some cases.

Governing the use of small vessels in the country under SAMSA is a set of regulations contained in the Merchant Shipping Act 57 of 1951 as amended periodically. The legislation provides for regulations for each specified category of vessels – from small to big – with particular regard to requirements for their construction and use, whether for commerce, leisure or such other use on South African waters.

To assist South Africans with both awareness and knowledge of the requirements of this raft of regulations under the Act, SAMSA conducts training courses and some in cases, licensing for both owners of vessels as well as State appointed rangers, peace officers, surveyors and related with a direct role in ensuring the proper utilisation of the vessels.

Pontoon boats training

Among most recently held courses conducted periodically, on an ongoing basis countrywide was one for pontoon vessel surveyors in June 2021 in Saldanha Bay over two days. According to SAMSA, pontoon boats, otherwise also known as rafts and used on sheltered waters (Category R vessels), are of unique construction.

“A pontoon boat is a boat used for navigation on water, however propelled or moved, consisting of two or more flotation (hull) units to which a deck or decks are attached and on which persons are able to be supported on. The essential difference between a pontoon boat and a conventional boat is that the deck(s) are not integral to the hull of the boat.”

In terms of legislation, as articulated in SAMSA’s Marine Notice 26 of 2011, construction and functionality of the class of small vessels is governed by the Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessel Safety) Regulations, 2007 along with all non-pleasure vessels of less than 25 GT which proceed to sea and/or are used on sheltered waters, pleasure vessels of less than 100 GT which proceed to sea and/or are used on sheltered waters and all vessels used on inland waters.

The training workshop’s co-coordinator, SAMSA Centre for Boating manager Ms Debbie James, said the two-day workshop held in Saldanha Bay in June was targeted at all boating surveyors, (both SAMSA’s and those external) as well as safety officers and focused solely on Category R pontoons not used for ferrying passengers. Training on passenger-ferrying pontoons is limited to SAMSA surveyors as, according to Ms James, they are the only one allowed by law to inspect that class of the small vessels.

She said: “The aim was to provide guidance  on the application of the Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessel Safety) Regulations, 2007, to pontoon boats, which are not passenger vessels, on issues of construction, stability, watertight integrity and survivability in the event of damage which are important survey elements for the issue of Local General Safety Certificates or Certificates of Fitness,”.

Crucially, she said; the one other reason the training workshop was extremely important for all boat surveyors was because “pontoon boats used primarily on inland waters (Category R), require additional clarification of the application of the provisions of the National Small Vessel Regulations.”

For the reason, it was necessary for especially external surveyors and safety officers intending to survey small pleasure pontoon vessels to attend the training course as consistent with their licensing requirements.

The inclusion of six of SAMSA’s boat surveyors in the training workshop also had a specific objective. “The concept behind holding the workshop was also to ‘train the trainer’ and for SAMSA to develop a pool of internal SAMSA surveyors able to present this particular training when required.”

Of course, the small boats training workshop at Saldanha Bay was one of a series held over the last few years, and which were highly negatively impacted over the last year by the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.

Commercial paddling ops training workshop

In fact, just a month or so ahead of the national lockdown in March 2020, SAMSA had just conducted one such training workshop for operators of commercial paddling operations along the Orange River through to the Oranjemund river mouth on the Atlantic Ocean west of the country.

NEW MARINE OFFICERS READY FOR THE TASK!

Three new SAMSA young officers, Mr Esethu Hlokoza, Mr Tora Lombard and Ms Khanyisiwe Mthethwa joined SAMSA recently as seafarers undergoing training as Marine Offivers over two years.

Below is the story of two of the Marine Officer trainees, Ms Mthathwa and Mr Lombard about their first month on the training programme.

“We joined the programme at beginning of September as trainee surveyors. During the first three weeks, we attended variouss mall vessel, pontoon, passenger and buoyancy courses which detailed about what to look out for when doing the survey and regulations that goes with them.  We were then given a chance to put what we had learned in theory into practical use as CE Jonathan Hartzenberg took us to survey the small vessels with him applying all that was taught during the course.

“As illustrated in the above picture. we went to survey two sister fishing vessels in Hout Bay where we learned more about the processes of LGSC on small vessels.”

“Cape Town and Saldanha Bay have quite a few wooden vessels in their waters, so  during our fourth week we attended a wooden vessel course in the port of Saldanha Bay where we learned more about the structural integrity of wooden vessels and how to survey them. We then applied this knowledge to the Zay-Yaan, (see above pic) a wooden fishing vessel in the port of Hout Bay.

“We also visited a river-rafting company, where we surveyed their inflatable boats, better known as “crocs”. (see pic above). As a commercial company these crocs are surveyed as a group under one certificate. This allowed us the opportunity to test for the floatation requirements after chamber deflation.

“We further had the opportunity to break away from the small vessels and complete an LGSC and IOPP survey on a large Fishing Trawler. As IOPP’s aren’t applicable to small vessels, it was a good learning experience to survey these items and the greater scope of the LGSC on such a large vessel as compared to the small vessels.

“It was an interesting four (4) weeks. Coming from larger vessels, the exposure to small vessels came as quite a surprise as to how large and complicated the small vessel industry really is and the large role it plays in maritime safety within South Africa. We are excited to see what the new month has in store for us.”

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House-boat fire, with fatalities in Jozini, KwaZulu-Natal under investigation: SAMSA

SAMSA File Photo

Pretoria: 10 October 2021

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) says it has launched an investigation into a fire that reportedly broke out of a luxuary house boat in Jozini, KwaZulu-Natal and in which at least two people have lost their lives.

According to SAMSA in a statement shortly before lunch time on Sunday, the boat was still on fire and that emergency personnel were currently on the scene.

SAMSA said in the statement: ” SAMSA can confirm that two (2) people (one crew member and one passenger) had died and one (1) crew member is still missing. The luxury houseboat known as Shayamanzi was reportedly on a two night cruise on the Jozini Dam with four (4) crew and five (5) passengers.

“SAMSA with other stakeholders including emergency services will continue to monitor the situation and update the public as and when new information becomes available.

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Seafarers’ well-being has South Africa’s unwavering support: Transport Minister on World Maritime Day 2021

Pretoria: 04 October 2021

South Africa may currently be accounting for no more than 0,65% (or 10 671) of registered world’s seafarers (approximately 1,7-million), but its commitment to contributing to their improved work and general social welfare conditions remains unwavering, according to the South African government.

To this end, confirmed South Africa’s Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula; the country has paved the way for all seafarers – domestic or international – to receive Covid-19 vaccination in the country subject to conditions periodically relevant in terms of domestic national lockdown regulations.

South Africa Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula

Mr Mbalula’s confirmation came in remarks he made in an opening address during the marking of the global celebration of World Maritime Day 2021 on Thursday last week. The Transport Department organised event held online and streamed live on social media occurred in the same week that the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) officially confirmed through a Marine Notice the extension of Covid-19 pandemic vaccinations to all seafarers on South Africa’s waters.

In terms of that Marine Notice (MN 19-21 [C+F+S+P]) dated 23 September 2021, all foreign seafarers in South Africa’s ports are eligible for vaccination, and to which a process guidline is provided. The South African government directive through SAMSA was given in support of efforts by various institutions locally and globally, including the International Maritime Organisation(IMO), the World Health Organisation and related, for seafarers to be prioritised for vaccination against the Covid-19 pandemic.

In his World Maritime Day 221 celebration address to an online audience of about 124 guests, Mr Mbalula said this latest initiative served as an ample demonstration of the country’s full commitment to contributing positively and sustainably to the improvement of the working conditions as well as general welfare of seafarers across the world.

He described as it as befitting therefore that the 43rd ocassion of the world’s celebration of World Maritime Day 2021 as guided by the IMO, to which South Africa is a Member State, was given a theme focusing attention on seafarers: “Seafarers: At the core of shipping’s future“.

Mr Mbalula said South Africa’s geo-location at the most southern tip of the African continent, surrounded by three oceans; the Atlantic to the west, the southern ocean and the Indian Ocean to the east, with a coastline of some 3800km, and an oceans based 1.5-million square kilometers of an Exclusive Economic Zone, made it an undoubted maritime country. For the reason, almost the entire country’s foreign trade depended centrally on shipping, and by extension, on the singular critical importance of seafarers manning those vessels.

“Seafarers play a strategic role in shipping and yet also bare the brunt of challenges facing the sector but especially now during the outbreak and spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. South Africa is among IMO Member States that were first to declare seafarers as essential workers.”

For his full remarks (+-8 minutes), click on the video link below.

Transport Minister Mr Fikile Mbalula’s opening remarks during South Africa’s celebration of World Maritime Day 2021 on 30 September.

Humanitarian crisis

For its part, the IMO that was represented by Senior Legal Officer, Mr Jan de Boer, acknowledged with appreciation South Africa’s continued strong support of the United Nations body, even as 250 000 seafarers across many parts of the world are still facing an uphill battle during especially the period of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Mr de Boer, difficulty with crews changes, inability to work and in some instances, cases of abandonment of seafarers were still a massive challenge, as was the need to prioritise seafarers for vaccinations. This occured against the backdrop of a situation where only about 57 of the IMO’s 167 Member States had so far designated seafarers as essential or key workers.

Describing the situation of seafarers worldwide as a “humanitarian crisis”, he said movement restrictions were also still a major challenge this despite the existence of a framework of protocols established as well as resolutions by the IMO and associated organisations in order to help assist efforts towards addressing problems faced by seafarers.

For its part, said Mr de Boer, the IMO has in place a Seafarer Crisis Action Team that seafarers and related may direct inquiries for assistance.

For Mr de Boer’s full remarks (about 5 minutes), click on the video link below.

Mr Jan de Boer, ILO Senior Legal Officer’s remarks during South Africa’s celebration of World Maritime Day 2021 on 30 September.

In SA, seafarers are essential workers

Meanwhile, according to SAMSA; continued engagement with seafarers is vital to ensuring an orderly, inclusive approach to both confronting the challenges facing seafarers as well as working out appropriate measures aimed at improving their working conditions and securing a sound social welfare future.

Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane. SAMSA Acting CEO

SAMSA acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane recounted various steps the country has undertaken to address especially the pressing problems brought about by the outbreak of Covid-19 in China in 2019.

Over the past year since about May 2020, in addition to an early designation of seafarers as essential workers, the country sought to ensure limited restrictions of both vessels and their seafarers on South Africa sea waters while also making provision for both the extension of their certificates of competency and related, as well as facilitating for the renewal of passports.

Undertaken jointly with various government and private sector institutions in the maritime sector, similar measures relevant to seaferers in the fishing and related sectors such as leisure were also made thereby ensuring that no seafarers were left stranded while in or nearby the country’s borders.

She said: “… It is befitting that the IMO has made a clarion call to all of us to make 2021 a year of action for seafarers, who daily face unprecedented adversity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite their vital role as essential workers supporting global supply chains,

“As of this month, with the South African government having secured enough volumes of Covid-19 pandemic vaccinations for both South Africans and non-residents, SAMSA has facilitated for the vaccination of all Seafarers on our shores.

“We acknowledge that there is still more work to be done especially in ensuring that seafarers are fully recognised as “Essential Workers” in the country. Engagements with our partners are ongoing.”

Further, according to Ms Taoana-Mashiloane, similar to the IMO’s STAC, SAMSA as the country’s registrar of seafarers, also has a dedicated office to seafarers welfare that they can refer issues of interest or concern to, by email: welfare@samsa.org.za

For her full remarks, click on the video link below.

SAMSA Acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane’s address during South Africa’s celebration of World Maritime Day 2021 on 30 September

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SAMSA marks Nelson Mandela Day 2021 helping a water deprived community in Northern Cape province with drawing tools

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On Tuesday this week, SAMSA jointly with the SA Logocal Government Association (SALGA) held an hour long virtual online symbolic presentation of some 200 Hippo Water Rollers to a group of disadvantaged residents of two informal settlements in the Siyancuma Local Municipality in the Northern Cape province, aimed at alleviating their current water scarcity challenge. Targeted recipients included the aged, child-headed households and the disabled.

Pretoria: 22 Juy 2021

The marking of the United Nations endorsed international Nelson Mandela Day often involves the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA), through its Corporate Social Investment and Sustainability (CSI&S) fund, identifying causes and communities in the country towards which to lend a helping hand and this year’s event was no different.

Working jointly with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), recipients of SAMSA’s poverty alleviation intervention in 2021 comprised a group of disadvantaged residents of two informal settlements in the Northern Cape’s Siyancuma Local Municipality – Campbell and Grikwastad – who, despite being nestled within a stone’s throw of the confluence point of the Vaal River and the Orange River, yet battle daily with access to adequate water.

This year, the Nelson Mandela Day on 18 July, fell on a Sunday. SAMSA and SALGA thus chose Tuesday morning, 20 July 2021 for the online symbolic handover event. During the event participating officials described the targeted communities as mostly poor and lacking in basic social services infrastructure.

On the one hand, Campbell – originally known as Knovel Valley and then Groote Fontein, and later named after the Reverend John Campbell – was described as a small town situated on the edge of the Ghaap Plateau, some 48 km east of Griquatown. It’s twin sister, situated some 168 kilometres west of Kimberley was in no different position.

The target group in the two settlements comprised the aged, child-headed homes as well as the physical challenged. SAMSA and SALGA working jointly with the Siyancuma Local Municipality, said they were providing them with 200 specialised water drawing vessels known as Hippo Rollers and the bulk of which are scheduled to be delivered in person during the month of September 2021 – Covid-19 pandemic conditions allowing.

For a glimpse of the informal settlement areas in two towns, click on the video below.

A glimpse of the improverished communities residing in informal settlements in the Northern Cape towns of Campbell and Griekwastad under the Siyancuma Local Municipality. (Visuals: SAMSA)
Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane. Acting CEO: SAMSA

Addressing invited guests to the online event on Tuesday morning, SAMSA Acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane described the agency’s concerns as well as sustained passion to assist disadvantaged communities across South Africa’s nine provinces as consistent with and in keeping with former statesman and South Africa’s first president of the democratic era, the late Nelson Mandela’s generous spirit and advocacy for ubuntu (humaneness).

Quoting Nelson Mandela, she said: ““We can build a society grounded on friendship and our common humanity – a society founded on tolerance. That is the only road open to us.”

She added: “The plight of rural people in South Africa has been highlighted by many policy studies, and significant public awareness has been created via the media. Broadly, while about 50 percent of the South African population is rural, rural areas contain approximately 72 percent of those members of the total population who are classified as poor.

She described the identified communities of Campbell and Griekwastad as falling within this category. “The area has a population of about 37 000 people encased in approximately 10 000 households, with 37 percent of these households headed by females. The main economic activity in the area is agriculture and mining. Only about 42 percent of the households have piped water inside their dwellings, while about 90 percent have electricity for lighting.

“Given this context, the SAMSA intervention delivered through our CSI and Sustainability programme, is designed and intended to contribute to the Siyancuma Local Municipality’s efforts of bringing basic services to the community in the area,” said Ms Taoana-Mashiloane.

On the partnership with SALGA for the second successive year, she said: “We pride ourselves with forging effective partnerships that will have a positive and sustainable impact on identified communities.” For her full remarks, click on the video below.

SAMSA Acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane’s remarks during a virtual symbolic handover of water drawing tools to impoverished communities of two informal settlements in the small towns of Campbell and Griekwastad in the Northern Cape on Tuesday, 20 July 2021.

Representing SALGA were the body’s senior advisor in the Northern Cape province, Mr Johann Ruiters and SALGA provincial operations manager, Ms Madeleine Brandt; and representing the Siyancuma Local Municipality was Mayor, Councillor Patrick McKlein and Councillor Johannes Musike.

All were appreciative of the SAMSA corporate social responsibility intervention for both its immediate direct positive impact to people in the targeted areas of the municipality but also for its example to other State and private sector institutions.

For Mr McKlein and Ruiters remarks, respectively; click on the videos below.

Siyancuma Local Municiapality Mayor, Mr Johannes McKlein’s remarks
SALGA senior advisor (Northern Cape) Mr Johann Ruiters
SALGA provincial operations director (Northern Cape) Ms Madeleine Brandt

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Collaboration is key to success of global maritime sector development: SATC Conference & Exhibition

Pretoria: 06 July 2021

Development of southern Africa’s maritime economic sector has no room for selfish, self-centred independent actors, and instead demands of all involved a sustained close collaboration in order to ensure not only the success of collective effort but also equity in shared benefits

This was the dominant theme of speakers in the maritime transport section of this year’s Southern Africa Transport Conference (SATC) inaugural virtual conference and exhibition that began on Monday (05 July) and ends at about lunchtime on Wednesday (07 July).

With South Africa’s Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula having officially marked the start of the conference with an address, among keynote speakers on the maritime transport theme during Monday’s session were South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane, Mr Kholisile Mlambo of Mzansi Scuba Diving Academy, Mr Andrew Pike of Bownmans, Ms S Smith-Godfrey of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Michael Ekow Manuel of the World Maritime University and Mr C Mlambo.

With a presentation titled: Partners in building a maritime nation Ms Taoana-Mashiloane outlined SAMSA’s critical role as the country’s State agency mandated with among other things, advancing South Africa’s maritime interests and the centrality of meaningful partnerships between the agency and other role players in the public and private sectors but also crucially, establishing and sustaininng links with others in the sub-region, continent as well as international institutions.

Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane. Acting CEO: SAMSA

In a prerecorded presentation lasting about 17 minutes, Ms Taoana-Mashiloane said while the world might currently be faced with socio-economic woes largely brought about by the outbreak of the Covid-19 against which many countries continue to battle, current global economic studies also continue to project the African region positively as among those with prospects of high economic performance, and central to which is oceans transport, and by extension the maritime ecoomic sector.

Poised to play a critical role, she said; was the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (ACFTA) which commits countries in the region to remove tariffs on 90 per cent of goods and to progressively liberalise trade in services as well as address a host of other non-tariff barriers.

‘UNCTAD expects the Global maritime trade growth to return to positive trajectory in 2021 by expanding by 4.8%. Sustainable shipping, decarbonisation and ship pollution control remain priorities in 2021 (and) it is forecasted that the Sub-Saharan Africa area intra trade will double by 2030 and this will elevate the huge significance of a maritime transport system

“Britain, China, United States, France and the European Union have all launched initiatives to strengthen bilateral trade and investment relationships with Africa,” she indicated. However, for any of these developments to yield meaningful outcomes, maritime sector stakeholders and roleplayers needed to forge close relations and sustainable partnerships., she said.

Pointing to SAMSA’s own initiatives in this regard among which is its representative role for the country at International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as well as involvement and collaboration with similar institutions both on the Atlantic and Indian seaboards, the African Union and related institutions, she said: “The ability to leverage partner resources, subject matter expertise and innovation is a competitive advantage of a great partnership. Otherwise, trying to go it alone and strive to outshine others and to get all credit is not anyone’s interest.

“The 2050 African Maritime Integrated Strategy (AIMS) seeks to provide a broad framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of the African maritime domain for wealth creation. Alongside, the African Maritime Charter (AMC) declares, articulates and advocates the implementation of harmonised maritime transport policies capable of promoting sustained growth and development of African Merchant Fleets as well as promote bilateral and multilateral cooperation among the maritime administrations of States Parties and their respective operational organizations in the field of maritime and inland waterways transport and port activities.

“In addition it seeks to also promote the funding, undertaking of research studies by national institutions that encourage the promotion and development of cooperation in maritime and inland waterways transport and port operations among States Parties and regions.

Domestically, according to Ms Toana-Mashiloane, South Africa’s positive response had included the launch of the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) followed by the promulgation of the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy both to widen the scope for partnerships across sectors of the economy inclusive of identification of business investment opportunities, she added.

“As part of development efforts, we continue to engage and explore strategic partnership with the different industry players including local municipalities with the purpose of creating economic opportunities for local communities,”she said.

For her full presentation at the SATC Conference and Exhibition 2021, click on the video below.

Ubuntu – we are human only through the humanity of others

Dr Michael Ekow Manuel. Professor: World Maritime University

The theme was taken further by Sweden based World Maritime University representative, Dr Michael Ekow Manuel who described the subject of necessary partnership and collaborations in the sector as among the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Talking to a presentation themed: Fostering a partnership mindset; Governance and education; Dr Manuel said among targets of the UNSDGs was the enhancement of Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, “complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in all countries, in particular developing countries.
Further, the target encompassed efforts to “encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnership.

From a governance perspective, optimising key factors, he said; included “ethical behaviour, a problem-centric approach, stakeholder equity and voice, leadership with partnership skills, evaluation criteria, learning procress and ageements.” With regards education, Dr Manuel said it had to play a transformative role “in which people are engaged in a new way of seeing, thinking, learning and working….a new set of skils such as envisioning, critical thinking and reflection, dialogue and negotiation, collaboration and building partnerships.”

Quoting former South African President, the late Mr Nelson Mandela; Dr Manuel reflected that: “In Africa there is a concept known as ubuntu – the profound sense that we are human only through the humanity of others, that if we are to accomplish anything in this world it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievements of others.”

South Africa no longer the only sheriff in town

Mr Andrew Pike. Heard of ports, Transport and Logistics: Bowmans

That notwithstanding, according to Bowmans’ head of ports, transport and logistics Mr Andrew Pike, it helped little in fostering strong partnerships and collaborations if some of the players in the southern African region failed to pull their weight, indicating further that South Africa, despite its numerous maritime related advantages, was nevertherless on the verge of fairing poorly compared with its oceans bordered peers and flanking countries both to the east, namely Mozambique, as well as to the west, notably Namibia.

South Africa’s competitiveness with its ports infrastructure and performance was noticeably waning, he said, citing a World Bank’s recent report that ranked the country lowest at 347 out of 351 countries world wide – and in fact, the lowest ranking of all African countries.

Closest home, Mr Pike said even with the outbreak of Covid-19 which hugely affected sea transport negatively right across the board, statistics indicated that Mozambique outperformed South Africa in terms of trade ships port calls, even increasing its tally from 1 927 in 2018 and 2 145 in 2019 to 2 019 in 2020. This was in contrast to South Africa suffering a drop in trade ships port calls from 8 510 in 2018 and 8 856 in 2019 to 7 836 in 2020.

A similar picture was gradually emerging on the Atlantic seaboard where Namibia was making strides both in terms of infrastruture investment as well as competitive performance to the benefit of the southern African region previously almost entirely dependent on South African ports.

According to Mr Pike, partnerships and collaboration were all good but all involved had to pull their weight. He intimated that South Africa would do herself a lot of good, and humble herself by realising that the country was “not the only sheriff in town.”

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Day of the Seafarer 2021: Setting a ‘fair future’ for seafarers: DoT-SAMSA

Pretoria: 24 June 2021

For no less than three hours early on Friday, June 25, South Africa’s role and contribution in the shaping of a fair future for seafarers locally and globally will come under the microscope as some of the country’s stakeholders and interested parties in the general wellbeing of these highly skilled yet generally overlooked oceans-based workers gather to mark the International Day of the Seafarer 2021, under the guidance and leadership of the Department of Transport.

The marking of Day of the Seafarer 2021 takes the shape of an online event – for the second year running, owing to the ongoing rampant spread of the Covid-19 pandemic – hosted by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) from its Pretoria-based Head Ofice on Friday morning.

Starting from 9am and scheduled to last until 12 noon, high profile participants on the programme, according to SAMSA, include Transport Minister Mr Fikile Mbalula and his deputy, Ms Dikeledi Magadzi, the department’s Acting Director for Maritime Branch Mr Mthunzi Madiya, Ms Soraya Artman of the South African International Maritime Institute (SAIMI), Mr Musa Mbakaza of AMSOL, Ms Silindokuhle Nyoka of Transnet, and Captain Mike Kelly representing The Mission of Seafarers Association, as well as SAMSA acting CEO Ms Tsepiso Taoana Mashiloane and Mr Sibusiso Rantsoabe

Also participating and sharing an international perspective will be Mr Cheah Aun Aun from the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore.

The theme of the 2021 instalment of the Day of the Seafarer as decided by the International Maritime Organisation is a “Fair Future for Seafarers” – the idea behind it being a continued effort to rally individual maritime country as well as international support for measures to improve and enhance the working conditions as well as the general welfare of seafarers globally.

In invitations circulated to maritime sector stakeholders earlier this month, SAMSA said: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions. Last year the Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging Governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes.

“The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage Governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. You are therefore urged to join the virtual event where various speakers and seafarers will highlight the plight of our seafarers and the plans that the Government and its partners have to ensure that seafarers are treated fairly,”

At Friday’s event, with just 100 confirmed attendees, expected to dominate the marking of the Day of the Seafarer 2021 are activities and related measures being undertaken by particularly the Department of Transport, its agency SAMSA, as well as industry to advance this cause, this especially against unique challenges by seafarers due to the onset and continued international havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic since its outbreak in China in late 2019

According to SAMSA, the online event will again be livestreamed on the SAMSA Facebook in order to allow the public access. To connect, please click on the link following link: https://fb.me/e/1UMv7h5fr

This blog will also follow proceedings of the event.

End.

A ‘fair future for seafarers’ is the campaign theme of international Day of the Seafarer 2021: SAMSA/Department of Transport.

Pretoria: 10 June 2021

A ‘fair future’ for seafarers globally should be a shared responsibility between seafarers and the rest of other relevant stakeholders – and that is the view of seafarers themselves according to a current poll being conducted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

This global seafarers’ view is emerging solidly a few weeks ahead of this year’s international marking of the Day of the Seafarer on June 25 (a Friday) as driven and directed by the IMO along with its Member States, including South Africa.

In the poll currently being conducted by the IMO on its social media pages, among seafarers who responded to a question: “Who should be responsible for a fair future for seafarers”; an overwhelming majority (54%) call it a “shared responsibility”.

Against the backdrop, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) working jointly with the Department of Transport has confirmed that its marking of the Day of the Seafarer this year would be closely aligned to the issue, consistent with the IMO’s theme for the celebrations on June 25.

In invitations circulated to maritime sector stakeholders this week, SAMSA states that: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions. Last year the Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging Governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes.

“The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage Governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. You are therefore urged to join the virtual event where various speakers and seafarers will highlight the plight of our seafarers and the plans that the Government and its partners have to ensure that seafarers are treated fairly,” says SAMSA.

Among issues likely to feature prominently at the event on June 25 may be the outcomes and insights of a recent South African seafarers survey conducted by University of KwaZulu-Natal academic and author, Dr Shaun Ruggunan focused on their personal experiences of the impacts of Covid-19 over the last year.

Dr Ruggunan’s survey supported by SAMSA was conducted from March to end of May this year and its results are currently being collated and studied.

From a Government perspective, notably the UKZN survey took place shortly after South Africa in February 2021 joined other IMO Member States in declaring seafarers as ‘essential workers’ – a recurrent theme in the industry globally in 2020 since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in China in 2019, and which campaign gained huge support from many organisations worldwide, among them the United Nations.

However, the declaration of seafarers as essential workers earlier this year, even as singularly highly significant, was but one aspect of a basket of sought industry reforms with regards seafarers’ general welfare and work conditions, and some of which continue to be highlighted in a series of regional webinars driven by IMO, its Members States and affiliated organisations.

The first of the IMO regional webinars focused specifically on the question of “Challenges faced by seafarers and identification of best practices during Covid-19 pandemic” was held virtually online for the Eastern and Southern Africa on 21 October 2020, with the lineup of speakers including IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim and representatives of UN-OSAA, Stella Maris, ICS as well as Member States: Kenya, South Africa and the Seychelles.

The webinars have since covered Eastern and West Africa, East Asia, Western Asia and Eastern Europe as well as the Arab States and Mediterranean regions and Latin America

Now, in the lead up to this year’s Day of the Seafarer, the IMO also embarked on the social media poll, where it is asking seafarers across the world to respond and share their views on a number of issues affecting their work and general welfare.

On Covid-19 impacts and about which an IMO asks in one of the question: ‘what is most important for you for your future as a seafarer’, most seafarer respondents (41%) believe it be to be “quarantined access to repatriation and crew change”, followed by “priority vaccinations” (24%), “safe working conditions” (19%) and “enforcement” (16%).

On another question about whether seafarers believe that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the future of seafaring and in what direction, the majority seafarers’ view (73%) is that the pandemic has, and for the “worse” while only 15% believe it has done their trade a world of good, and 13% saying it has made no difference.

On the question of the IMO’s campaign in 2021 for a “fair future for seafarers”; 54% of participants feel it has to be a “shared responsibility” with only three (03) percent saying seafarers should be directly and solely in charge, while the rest are split unevenly between a view that it should be “IMO/ILO/Governments” (31%) and that it should be “shipping companies” (12%).

Among the seven questions posed to seafarers by the IMO so far is also one about “what area most needs improvement to ensure a fair future for seafarers” and to which the majority view (46%) suggests it to be “the workplace”, followed by “salaries” (30%), “training” (13%0 and “safety on board” (12%).

On the gradual encroachment of autonomous ships, according to their responses, most seafarers are either “excited” (25%), “unconcerned” (22%) or “accepting” (14%), with only 36% expressing the view that they are “worried”.

On climate change; most (59%) say they are onboard with mitigation efforts while seven (7%) and five (5) say they either could not be bothered (“not my personal responsibility”) or regard it as “unimportant”.

In explaining the seafarers view poll on its social media platforms, the IMO says: “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, seafarers found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions surrounding uncertainties and difficulties around port access, re-supply, crew changeovers, repatriation, etc.

“In light of this, the 2020 Day of the Seafarer campaign focused its message around urging governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes. The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers. The campaign will discuss issues that will still be relevant to seafarers after the pandemic, such as fair treatment of seafarers, fair working conditions (in line with ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention), fair training, fair safety, etc.”

For more on this, please on click on the IMO General Secretary, Mr. Kitack Lim ‘s official message for Day of the Seafarer 2021 below.

Meanwhile in Pretoria, according to SAMSA, South Africa’s marking of the Day of the Seafarer 2021 on Friday, June 25; will be conducted in similar fashion as last year, virtually online, from 9am and ending at 12 noon.

End.

Computer virus infection leads to disruption and delay in issuance of seafarers’ certificates: SAMSA

Pretoria: 18 May 2021

A computer virus found to have infected computer systems at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) will lead to delays of up to six weeks in the issuance of seafarers’ certificates, the country’s maritime agency under the Department of Transport announced in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The announcement in the form of a Marine Notice (MIN 05-21), published in SAMSA’s website on Tuesday morning revealed that: “SAMSA was exposed to a computer virus in April 2021, necessitating SAMSA to implement precautionary measures by disconnecting its network servers to prevent the virus from infecting all systems. SAMSA’s ICT department is conducting a full health assessment on all servers, operating software and hardware.

“At this point, no personal data was compromised, and SAMSA is continuing to investigate the incident in collaboration with law enforcement agencies.

According to SAMSA in the statement, while some services rendered by the agency to the country’s maritime economic sector were not affected bythe computer virus infection incident, such as vessels surveys; the agency’s Seafarer Certification Software System (SIOMS 2.) “was affected by the database restore(ation) which caused some unexpected technical difficulties. SAMSA is working towards resolving this technical failure as soon as possible.”

Due to the challenge related to systems restoration, SAMSA said: “Seafarers should expect delays in the issuing of any seafarer verifications, documentation and certificates of competence while the system is being repaired. Once the system is fully operational, seafarers (will) continue to experience delays with all certification related services for approximately 4-6 weeks while SAMSA implements extra-ordinary measures to clear the backlog and implement measures to improve services.

This notwithstanding, SAMSA urged seafarers and or affected people to continue engaging with it through its offices along the South African coastline in order to ensure that services and assistance needed are provided where possible.

“Seafarers intending to revalidate their certificates may continue to apply to do so at their local SAMSA office. Seafarers may continue to apply for Level 3 assessments (orals) leading to a higher qualification. Any interim certificatesfor Small Vessel Skippers Certificates of Competence that have expired in the last 3 months or any Small Vessel Certificate of Competence expiring within the next 4 weeks, may be extended up and until 31 August 2021 while SAMSA’s certification unit clears the backlog.

“In the event of certification related issues, seafarers currently serving on foreign going vessels should provide full details of the assistance needed and should submit a request to seafarers@samsa.org.za and in the event of any seafarer welfare challenges resulting from this delay, seafarers can contact: welfare@samsa.org.za

SAMSA extended an apology for the disruption to services: “SAMSA apologizes for this temporary inconvenience and assures all stakeholders that the technical issues are being addressed with utmost urgency.”

End

More regulations contemplated for small water-craft in SA waters to enhance safety: SAMSA

(SAMSA File Photo)

Pretoria: 07 May 2021

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has given notice that it will revise regulations relating to the utilisation of small vessels such as ski-boats to facilitate implementation of more safety measures to secure the lives of users and the general environment.

The notice published as Marine Alert MA 01-21, according to SAMSA, comes in the wake of an incident in East London earlier this year during which two young people lost control of a ski-boat and one of the youths was injured after being struck by the out of control vessel, resulting in him suffering lacerations to the face and other injuries.

(SAMSA File Photo)

The incident, according to SAMSA, occurred at about 11am on 13 January 2021 on the Nahoon River near East London. An investigation established that; “Two teenagers were operating a small (regulation 37) ski-boat on the Nahoon river when they both fell overboard into the river whilst making a sharp turn. The boat then did circles on the river and witnesses called the NSRI to assist. Whilst in the water, the boat hit one of the two teenagers who sustained lacerations to the face and injuries to the body,” reads the notice.

It further states that: “The vessel was found to have had a kill-switch which had not been in operation. There had been no SVCC (small vessel certificate of competency) aboard. The operation of a kill-switch had not occurred as intended by the manufacturer, because operation of a kill-switch on Regulation 37 vessels is not mandatory, and thus perceived as not required. There had been no adult supervision or competent skipper to oversee the vessel operation.”

According to SAMSA; “The incident had a potential loss of one fatality/permanent injury, along with damage to local jetties and other small craft that were operating in the area, and minor pollution in Marine reserve.”

SAMSA says the incident reflected on a few issues of concern including that:

  • Certain Regulation 37 vessels (≤15HP) are powerful enough to tow a skier at speed and should thus be used with caution, especially if used by underaged/unqualified persons; and then only under supervision of a qualified skipper or an adult.
  • When a vessel is fitted with a kill-switch, the owner/operator should operate the vessel as intended.
  • Any safety device/equipment that is onboard a vessel when in operation, should be used appropriately, even if that vessel is not required by regulation to have it onboard.
(SAMSA File Photo)

In efforts to prevent potentially deadly incidents of the nature in the future, the agency states that:

“SAMSA strongly recommends that the owner/operator of any Regulation 37 vessel fitted with an operational kill-switch, should operate the kill-switch as intended. SAMSA will also revise regulations and consider the inclusion of appropriate Regulation 37 vessels in the requirements for kill-switches.”

Meanwhile, in a related Marine Alert (MA 02 21) also published this week, SAMSA reported on findings of shipping related accidents that occurred at both the port of Durban between 28 April 2020 and 26 October 2020, as well as the anchorage in Algoa Bay, and during which ropes and ladders were a common cause of slippages, resulting in injuries.

“In all four cases,” notes SAMSA; “….a fall from a height occurred. Two (2) of the four (4) incidents resulted in people being hospitalised.”

The agency restated the critical regulations governing the use of ropes and ladders on vessels at sea.

SAMSA said: “IMO Res A1045 (27) paragraph 2 lists the following requirements for ropes used in the construction of pilot ladders. Paragraph 5 lists the following requirements for hand rails at the pilot boarding area:

  1. The side ropes of the pilot ladder should consist of two uncovered ropes not less than18 mm in diameter on each side and should be continuous, with no joints, and have a breaking strain of at least 24 Kilo Newtons per side rope.
  2. Side ropes should be made of Manila or other material of equivalent strength, durability, elongation characteristics and grip which has been protected against actinic degradation and is to the satisfaction of the Administration.
  3. Adequate handholds should be provided at the point of embarking or disembarking from the ship via pilot ladder. These hand holds should not be spaced less than 700mm and not more than 800mm apart.”

For further detailed reading, the Marine Alert Notices are published on the SAMSA website. Further inquiries may be directed to SAMSA via this email address: Email: marinenotices@samsa.org.za

End.

SAMSA appoints four top managers to fill gap of three suspended executives.

Pretoria: 03 May 2021

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has confirmed the appointment of four management members to fill up temporarily three executive positions left vacant early last week following to the suspension of three top officials.

The three suspended senior managers consisted of Chief Operating Officer (COO) and former Acting Chief Executive, Mr Sobantu Tilayi; Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO), Ms Lesego Mashishi and Company Secretary, Mr Moyahabo Raphadu. The three top managers were suspended on full pay effective on Monday, 26 April 2021.

In Pretoria at the weekend, SAMSA Acting CEO Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane announced the names of Mr Vusi September, current Head of Corporate Affairs, Government, and International Relations as acting Chief Human Capital Officer. Ms Shelorne Muller, currently the assistant Company Secretary will take over temporarily as Company Secretary.

The position of COO meanwhile will be managed consecutively by Captain Vernon Keller, currently the Deputy COO, and Mr Ian Calvert, current Executive Manager: Marine Special Projects. The shared responsibility for the COO post sees Capt. Keller taking over with effect from 01 May to 30 June 2021 and thereafter passing the baton to Mr Calvert through to end of August 2021.

The four managers will remain in the positions for the duration of the suspension of the three executives.

In announcing the action taken against the three executives on Monday last week, the SAMSA Board said the suspensions were precautionary and that the decision to suspend them was based on “whistle-blowing and reports of alleged misconduct received from external and internal stakeholders.”

The Board’s action came barely two months after the secondment of a senior Department of Transport official, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane as SAMSA’s new acting Chief Executive Officer, replacing Mr Tilayi who had been in that acting position since 2016.

Her appointment in turn had followed a few months after the appointment of a new Board at SAMSA by Department of Transport Minister, Mr Fikile Mbalula in the second half of 2020.

Leading the SAMSA Board is Ms Nthato Minyuku.

In its statement announcing the three top managers’ suspension on Tuesday a week ago, the Board said: “A through forensic investigation will be undertaken on the range of serious allegations related to the three (3) executives. The precautionary suspensions will provide an opportunity for the Board to undertake an independent forensic investigation.

“These suspensions are necessary to ensure that the Board investigations are efficient and free of any potential interference in order to be completed within a reasonable time frame.

“The Board will be guided by the findings and recommendations of the forensic investigation on which appropriate steps will be taken with the 3 executives.

“In the interim, the Board has mandated the SAMSA Acting Chief Executive Officer to appoint suitable officials to act in all three (3) positions for the duration of precautionary suspensions in order to ensure business continuity,’ said the Board in a statement.

End